instore - May 2018 - 102
There are too many variables for a scratch baker, such as formulas, procedures,
mixer size and storage, just to name a few. One answer will not ﬁt all!
Some bakers point out that icing only has 3 primary ingredients (sugar, fat, water). Why can't we just tell them what to do?
There are many different variables such as types of sugar (6X sugar, 10X sugar,
12X sugar, granulated sugar, fondant); type of fat (palm oil, soy oil, hi-oleic soy oil,
soy palm blends); and different types of liquid (water, milk, egg whites).
And then you have to factor in the mixer. There are too many to mention, and
they all have different RPMs. Or what about the size of the formula you are running
because this affects the amount of air that goes into an icing or batter?
Remember that if 100 bakers picked three items from the above list, how many
would have the same formula?
Let's, for the moment, concentrate on the things we can change - without changing
our cherished artisan formulas, but only changing the procedures we use to make them.
And let's all communicate in the common language of science. Why? If we make
a formula the same way we did when we used a PHO shortening and it doesn't
work well, then we need to know how to change it. We need a control, or baseline,
to compare to so that we can understand if we need to mix it more or less, or if we
need to adjust the temperature.
So what tools do we need to achieve this?
Speciﬁc Gravity Icings
Speciﬁc gravity is a way to measure the air added into icing or
batter. It is the weight of a cake batter or icing in an empty cup,
compared to the weight of water in the same cup. For example, if
the cup weighs 16 ounces with water in it and 14 ounces with batter or icing in it, then you divide 14 by 16 to determine a speciﬁc
gravity of 0.875.
To help make this clear, I have listed the average speciﬁc gravity for
the most common icings made in the United States.
* American Butter Cream 0.85 to 0.90
* American Chocolate Butter Cream 0.90
* Fudge 0.95
* Swiss-French Style Icing 0.80
The average butter cream formula in the U.S. is 2 parts sugar to 1
part shortening, and about 10% water on that formula. For a silky
smooth butter cream, try replacing half the sugar with icing fondant.
Speciﬁc Gravity Cake Batters
Water Temperature Calculation
If the grain of your cakes is too open and is uneven, the speciﬁc gravity should be
adjusted. You can do this by shortening the mixing time.
If the grain is too tight and the cake is too dense, we need to mix it longer.
I have listed the average speciﬁc gravity for the most common cake types below. This is a general guide, as you can choose to move the speciﬁc gravity left
or right to open or close the grain.
Pound Cakes & Cream Cakes 0.90. This
is the simplest type of cake. A classic
pound cake is made with a pound each
of shortening, sugar, eggs, and ﬂour.
Shortening (and Oil) Layer Cakes
0.80. Chocolate, yellow and white classic American layer cakes.
Angel Food Cake 0.30. This type is
made with egg whites alone and no
Genoese 0.50. This type of sponge
cake is made with whole eggs rather
than just egg whites.
Chiffon Cake 0.50. A classic chiffon
cake is kind of a cross between an oil
cake and a sponge cake. Eggs are separated and the whites are beaten then
folded into the batter.
Why is a water temperature guide important? If your bakery distributor delivers
product to you in the summer, and the key ingredients are above 80 degrees when
coming in the door, then how can you make a cake batter or icing that needs to fall
in the 68- to 72-degree range?
We need to respect and cherish the formula for this process, as much as we do
the ingredient formula itself. They need each other.
Water temperature will help control the ﬁnal temperature of the batter or icing.
The degree of mixing and mixing times is dependent upon the conﬁguration and
RPMs of the actual mixer and/or bowl used. That's why we use speciﬁc gravity,
This is the perfect marriage of baking art and science. These are the basic building blocks of what we as artisans do and how we should talk and communicate
to each other.
Water temperature formula: 3 times the desired batter or icing
temperature, minus the sum of room temperature, mix (ﬂour/
sugar) temperature, and friction input.
Example: Room temperature = 85°F
Mix or (ﬂour/sugar) temperature = 80°F
Desired batter or icing temperature = 70°F
Friction factor = 3 (you can use this same formula for dough as
well. Just increase the friction factor to 25)
Water temperature = 3 X 70 - (85 + 80 + 3) = 42°F